Photographer Jack Zhi’s dramatic picture of a female peregrine falcon protecting her young has won this year’s Bird Photographer of the Year award.
The picture was taken in California and beat more than 20,000 entries to claim the prize.
“For four years, I attempted to capture the rare sight of the female falcon attacking large brown pelicans with incredible speed and agility,” he said.
“I love the eyes of the pelican in this image – surprised and scared. The action was fast, and over in the blink of an eye. But I’ll remember that moment forever.”
The Young Bird Photographer of the Year award went to 17-year-old German photographer Anton Trexler for his atmospheric picture of a blackbird silhouetted against the moon.
Photographers competed in a number of different categories in the adult competition, including a Conservation Award, Portfolio Award, and Video Award.
Here is a selection of the pictures that were awarded a gold, silver or bronze, with descriptions by the photographers.
Blue-footed booby, Baja California Sur, Mexico, by Henley Spiers
“In early autumn, a sardine shoal at Los Islotes attracted seabird predators.
“Amid the shoal, I waited patiently for the elusive shot of a blue-footed booby rising with a sardine in its beak. Finally, a crash came down close to me, and I instinctively captured the moment.”
Glistening-green tanager, Mashpi Amagusa Reserve, Ecuador by Nicolas Reusens
“Venturing into the tropical forest, I was excited to spot the rare glistening-green tanager.
“After hours of waiting, I saw the vivid-green bird on a perfect heart-shaped leaf. Its shimmering feathers reflected a dazzling array of colours.
“I captured every detail, grateful for this magical moment amid the lush jungle backdrop.”
Sword-billed hummingbird, Bogota, Colombia by Rafael Armada
“The sword-billed hummingbird, common in the Andean forests, has the world’s longest bill relative to its size.
“This bird’s unique bill, adapted to feed on flowers with long corollas, makes it a vital pollinator, as bees and butterflies can’t reach the nectar and so don’t pollinate these plants.
“This image captures the bird approaching a feeder, with natural backgrounds and lighting.”
Great grey owl, Helsinki, Finland by Arto Leppänen
“During winter migration, owls from northern Finland often head to the south where they can find more food due to less snow.
“This great grey owl chose a cemetery with abundant voles as its hunting ground. While hunting, the owl would often stop on tombstones or other structures to observe the area.
“Keeping a safe distance, I followed the owl and managed to capture a fleeting moment when it landed briefly on a beautiful angel statue.”
Purple heron, Lake Chiusi, Italy by Antonio Aguti
“The purple heron is a migratory bird that nests in the lake basins of the Italian Peninsula and feeds mainly on fish, although it also preys on mice, snakes, toads and other creatures.
“In this shot, the heron caught a large crucian carp and voraciously swallowed it after several attempts to turn the fish on to its side.”
Southern boobook, Bonorong Wildlife Hospital, Brighton, Tasmania, Australia by Michael Eastwell
Southern boobooks, the smallest Australian owl species, are often brought to veterinary hospitals after car accidents.
“Their large, outward-projecting eyes adapted for low-light hunting make them vulnerable to injury. In this image, Dr Luke Gregory is examining an owl named Rocket, focusing on the posterior eye, where injuries can be less visible.”
Emperor penguin, Adélie Land, Antarctica by Clément Cornec
“The Emperor penguin breeds during winter in Antarctica, the coldest environment on Earth.
“It endures temperatures as low as -40°C during the long polar nights and 250km/h (155mph) blizzards. Adaptations allow it to maintain body temperature and conserve energy.”
Australasian darter, Victoria, Australia by Cheng Kang
“On a winter morning, fog swirled around perched birds and dead trees like tentacles.
“It was a breathtaking sight that filled me with calm and tranquillity. Converting the image to black and white in post-processing further emphasised the sense of stillness and peace.”
European stonechat, Albacete, Spain by Julian Fernandez Quilez
“This image features an abandoned farmhouse in my town, with a painting of a woman and a European stonechat perched on the door.
“I orientated the door to let the sunrise in and used three flashes to illuminate the painting. It took multiple sessions to achieve the desired effect.”
King penguin, Saunders Island, Falkland Islands by Levi Fitze
“When observing King penguins, I was struck by how their behaviour sometimes resembles that of humans.
“This juvenile constantly begged until the annoyed adult walked away. However, the fact that the juvenile was more massive than the adult suggests good parenting overall.
All photographs courtesy Bird Photographer of the Year, you can find out more about the competition and how to enter next year on their website www.birdpoty.com.